How to Clicker Train Your Cat

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
You’ve heard about clicker training for dogs, but did you know that it’s also used to train cats? Here are some tips if you’re going to clicker train your cat.

Training a cat is certainly possible, even when it comes to training a kitty to perform tricks. Using a little tool known as a clicker could help you teach your cat in a way that will be positive and fun, so even if your feline friend could enjoy the experience.

Clicker = Treat

First thing’s first: your cat needs to recognize that the clicker’s sound is associated with a yummy treat. You can do this by getting your pet’s attention, clicking the clicker, and then giving your kitty a treat or a small bite of wet food right away.

Be patient, as it might take a bit of time before your cat makes the connection. The keyword here is repetition. With consistency, your cat will know to expect a treat whenever that clicker makes a sound.

After establishing this positive association with the clicker’s sound, it should become easier to train your pet. You could use the clicker to tell your cat when he’s doing something good, such as using a scratching post rather than your sofa. Whenever your cat exhibits the right behavior, just click the clicker and give your pet a treat.

Add a Target Stick

Next, you can add a target stick, which could be as simple as the eraser on a pencil. Teaching your kitty to follow the target is easy. Just place the target close to your pet’s nose, such as roughly 2 inches in front of the nose. When your pet starts to sniff it and touches her nose to the target, make the sound with the clicker and give your cat a treat. If you have trouble getting your kitty’s attention, try putting a bit of wet food at the end of your target stick.

Once your cat is comfortable with this part of the training, you can then move on to the next step, which involves just moving that target stick so that it’s next to your cat and requires her to turn to sniff it. Use your clicker in the same way to reward the behavior, and keep going, but move the target stick farther away from your cat as she progresses. Before you know it, she’ll be following the target successfully.

Positive Training for Positive Behaviors

With the clicker and target stick, you could start teaching your cat some tricks once she’s ready. And, over time, your cat might even start to respond to your vocal commands without needing the training tools.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Whenever you clicker train your cat, keep the sessions short so your kitty doesn’t get bored, frustrated, or distracted.
  • Move along at your cat’s pace; don’t force her along.
  • Only use the clicker when you’re training your kitty and she executes good behavior (using it too often will undo the effectiveness of the clicker).
  • Never punish your pet; instead, use positive reinforcement by rewarding good behavior.

Taking the time to train your cat is a wonderful way to bond with your pet, and you might be surprised by the tricks that your kitty can learn. Beyond that, positive training could reinforce desirable behaviors, and it could even help with reducing feline anxiety and boredom. The best part is that all you have to do to get started is head to your favorite pet supply store and pick up a clicker that you can use to begin training your furry companion.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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